Transitioning the family farm from one generation to another can be an emotionally charged and complex issue.

Knowing who should be at the table discussing the farm’s future and how best to approach a transition plan can be difficult for families who have never gone through such a plan.

But through the Iowa Farm Bureau’s Take Root program, farm families can get the necessary help to put a plan in place.

"Take Root is more than just estate and transition planning," said Amanda Van Steenwyk, farm business development manager at the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation. "Take Root provides strategies and resources that will improve family communication, assist in navigating through the emotional obstacles and identify the business and estate planning tools that correspond with transferring the family business to the next generation."

Since the program’s inception in 2013, more than 2,500 members have participated in Take Root workshops held throughout the state.

Workshops scheduled

Starting with workshops in 2016, the format of the Take Root program will change to allow families to go more in-depth with their planning. Take Root workshops will now be a series of two, three-hour meetings. The three-hour workshops take place over the course of the two events, where attendees will receive information and resources useful in developing a managed, comprehensive approach to family farm succession.

On Jan. 19 and Feb. 2, Take Root workshops will be held in Mount Pleasant. Take Root workshops will be held Feb. 11 and Feb. 25 in Decorah. Workshops will be held in Algona on Feb. 17 and March 9.

The workshops are a member benefit for Iowa Farm Bureau members. Non-members are welcome to attend for $55 per family.

During the first workshop, families will learn how to start the conversation about farm and transition planning.

"It goes through the dynamics of communicating within the family. We know it’s an emotional process," Van Steenwyk said. "The farm wasn’t created in a day, so we know there are emotional ties. We talk about working through those, as well."

Families will also be introduced to an online tool, Ag Transitions, which can help serve as a guide.

During the second workshop, families will interact with a panel of farm business experts who will provide insight on estate, tax and financial planning, leases and tenant qualities, and beginning farmer opportunities.

The workshops are designed to answer any questions families might have on farm business transitions, and to provide a framework on how to carry on a family’s farming legacy, Van Steenwyk said.

"Our goal is to make sure the family farm stays intact," Van Steenwyk said. "You created your legacy, and it’s important to have a plan to continue that legacy. The hard work to create and implement your succession plan early is worth the peace of mind knowing your legacy will continue the way you envision."

For a complete agenda and details on how to register for the workshops, click here.